Sheep To The Slaughter

November 16, 2007 at 10:04 am 13 comments

sheep.jpg

Sheep To The Slaughter

Sheep are stupid! But I like them. Especially roasted and swimming in mint sauce. Fortunately the fields around us are slowly filling up again after the disaster and debacle of the Government’s stunning response to the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. Almost every lamb and sheep in Cheshire was slaughtered and yet there was not a single confirmed case of the disease in the whole county. What a waste!

In fact it was quite a spectacle the day the sheep disappeared. It was like martial law had been imposed on Cheshire. I arrived home from work to find the lane near home blocked off by the army. I had to wait an hour or so. They were gathering all of the sheep together and putting them onto trains to take them to slaughter. It was like a scene from the holocaust. They didn’t want anyone watching.
 
After I finally got home we had another army Land Rover come hurtling onto the drive and four squaddies rushed out: “You got any sheep or other livestock?”, they barked. We hadn’t. At first they didn’t believe us. You see the property was still called “School Farm” on the local A to Z. But we did manage to convince them in the end – although they were very suspicious of the old hen coup in our side garden, which was now just used as a shed and dumping ground.
 
In truth though a number of local farmers did foil the army search. Many kept a breeding pair in their homes throughout this period. Foot and Mouth was nothing new and they realised the Government was overreacting. And, they couldn’t bear to lose their entire flocks.
 
The silence of the sheep. It was eerily quiet around the hamlet with the sheep gone, and the cows in sheds. The moles moved in. And the foxes and badgers. The buzzards. The barn owls. These seemed to increase significantly as the fields emptied of livestock. The moles seem to have stayed, much to the chagrin of those of our neighbours who are proud of their lawns.

mole

T and R, our most lawn proud neighbours, suffer really badly with moles. It is a real shame because they love their garden and nature in general. In the summer they live outdoors. They have a split-level pool cum fish pond where they encourage newts and frogs and discourage the herons it attracts. But, R is a big softy. He doesn’t like the thought of killing anything. So getting rid of the moles is a bit difficult. There are many myths about moles, you know. Rat poison doesn’t work – they can smell it and they avoid it. They just dig another hole. Moth balls don’t work for much the same reason. You can’t smoke or flood them out because their burrows are far too extensive – they just move out of the way, seek higher ground. There are really only two effective ways to kill them. You can go out at night, wait until you see a mound (mole hill) forming, wait till the little bugger pops his head up, and, whack him with a shovel. Or, you can use razor blades. Moles are haemophiliacs. Their blood doesn’t clot. If you push a razor blade into the run of a mole and they run over it, and cut themselves, they bleed to death…..

Moles can be trapped though, and relocated. But, you have to be very careful not to leave your scent on the trap. T approached me one day when R was still at work and asked me to lay a trap. I did. R subsequently sabotaged it by “checking” on it. He touched the trap. He knew what he was doing. He’s a really nice guy.

The Foot and Mouth outbreak finished off a number of the farmers around here. They are tenant farmers in the main. They do not own their own land or houses. So, when times are tough they have nothing to borrow against. I once helped a farmer-neighbour when his tractor caught fire at the height of Foot and Mouth. He cried. He wasn’t insured. He couldn’t afford the premium. He was losing a fortune at the time and thought that the cost of fixing the tractor would push them into bankruptcy. Several of the farms went under. Most are over-priced, poorly designed, badly decorated conversions now. Tis a shame.

But, we still have the moles. And the sheep are back. Sheep are stupid. Have you noticed that they stand in lines. They all look in the same direction. They stare. C says it might be a zen thing. I doubt it. It can be quite spooky when they all line up and stare at you. For no good reason. Spooky. And, it is rude to stare.

On one occasion C and I were walking across the fields to our local pub. At one point we found a sheep with its head stuck in a wire fence. Well stuck. It would seem that it had pushed its head through in an attempt to get at a bucket on the other side which had some kind of food stuff in it. The wire was beginning to cut into its neck. I tried to get it out. I pulled and I pulled. I tugged and I tugged. It budged not a bit. In the end we decided to fetch the farmer.

The farmer didn’t seem too happy when we caught up with him. He was just leaving in his Land Rover. Probably off to the pub, or out for Sunday lunch somewhere. We watched him trudge across the field. He found the sheep. He climbed over the fence and he moved the bucket further away. The sheep, realising that there was no way it could get at the food, simply reversed. It backed out, shook its head and rejoined the flock. The farmer shook his head and probably muttered something like “bloody townies”. Sheep are stupid? I was only trying to help…. 

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Middle-Aged Spread Cheshire Swingers Club

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cathy Friend  |  November 29, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    cats dogs

    Reply
  • 2. blythelight  |  March 12, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks for reading my post at http://barbolian.wordpress.com! I was beginning to think I should have tagged it wine, or wine-enhanced gardening or something with a little more flare. A lot of people apparently don’t care about moles – or, for that matter, about sheep.

    I have been working with a nonprofit organization called Friends of Fields to help save family farms in our community before it is too late. Our area used to have 500 dairy farms. Now there are only 2. They are casualties of big agribusiness economics and also rampant growth as people from out of state have sold homes at a premium and bought land here. Our little town has turned into a strip-mall of big-box stores like Wal*Mart.

    I simply can’t imagine the army jumping out of rigs on your land, searching your place, and confiscating your animals! As if competing in today’s market isn’t hard enough! And the moles move in… It really is an underground movement.

    And yes, sheep are probably very stupid, but maybe in their world, intelligence is overrated. I am like your neighbor who sabotaged the trap. And I would never think of using razor blades. How ghastly! Knocking them out with a shovel? With my luck, it would take several adrenalin-rushed hits. Much too violent!

    Reply
  • 3. mo  |  October 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    Reply
  • 4. Anonymous  |  October 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    just magnificant

    Reply
  • 5. Bob  |  November 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I love sheep and not to eat they are cute little animals :)

    Reply
  • 6. dorian  |  November 23, 2010 at 3:02 am

    sheep are not stupid, because they don’t do anything bad (evil) people are, because people do evil so people are stupid, stupid enough to depend on sheep meat, when they have so many vegetables but they choose rather to slaughter animals, which is barbaric so, people are the stupid ones

    Reply
    • 7. Middle Man  |  November 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

      Thanks for popping in Dorian. You do miss the glaringly obvious though – that animals such as beef cows, chickens and sheep would long since have become extinct if not farmed by humans for meat. Also, if you check your teeth you will know that you have evolved to be an omnivore – unless God was wrong of course. I have no objection to you choosing to be a veggie on ethical grounds but please try not to preach about something that is entirely natural. I do, however, favour ethical and humane husbandry and slaughter of animals.

      Reply
  • 8. Dmitry  |  January 11, 2011 at 4:10 am

    IMO people on WWII concentration camp photos look similar – destined for slaughter. It’s not the sheep’s fault, it’s the people’s who think it’s their “divine” right to hurt and kill anything they please, cos they got a bigger brain, though the animals feel fear and pain exactly as humans do. Imagine, aliens thousands of years ahead of us decide to visit and do to the lower humans (being in “need” of protein and all that crap) exactly what they do to the “lower” animals Actually, the sheep on the picture looks wise. People are stupid cos they allow themselves to be duped by the meat and dairy industry.

    Reply
    • 9. Middle Man  |  January 11, 2011 at 8:06 am

      Dear Dmitry, thanks for commenting. I suspect that sheep tend to fare better than most farm animals in terms of husbandry. I suggest you check your teeth. It does seem to me that meat was intended to be an important part of our diet.

      Reply
      • 10. Dmitry  |  January 15, 2011 at 12:39 am

        I don’t think we have either carnivore’s teeth (pointed) nor internal organs (short gut). Our nearest ancestors are mostly vegetarians (gorillas 100%). Humans evolved to be omnivores, more than 50% of the food you eat is veges, you can’t survive on meat alone (barring some Eskimos eating raw meat). Humans also evolved empathy to other living creatures. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll stop killing other animals for food at some point in the future.

  • 11. Jess  |  January 28, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    # 7 makes me happy…

    Reply
  • 12. sophie  |  October 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    makes me cry and cry and cry

    Reply
  • 13. Robert  |  July 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    The attempt to drown the moles didn’t really work. I ordered some traps online, and they worked.

    Reply

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